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Anger Over Saraki’s Refusal to Recall National Assembly



  • Anger Over Saraki’s Refusal to Recall National Assembly

Moves to reconvene the National Assembly remained unsuccessful yesterday, even as the row sparked by the long recess grew.

Senate President Bukola Saraki and House Speaker Yakubu Dogara said there was no agreement that the National Assembly should reopen. Saraki is the chairman of the Assembly.

But All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders in the National Assembly insisted that there was an agreement to reopen the Assembly.

House Deputy Speaker Yussuf Lasun, Senate Leader Ahmed Lawan and House Leader Femi Gbajabiamila said presiding officers must reconvene the Assembly immediately to avoid any form of sabotage, which will not augur well for the APC.

Saraki and Dogara said that no date was fixed to reconvene the two chambers of the National Assembly to consider the budget for the 2019 elections.

Saraki and Dogara, in a joint statement issued yesterday, said no date had been set for the reconvening of the Senate and the House of Representatives to consider the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) 2019 elections budget request forwarded by President Muhammadu Buhari on July 17, 2018.

The statement by the media aides of Saraki and Dogara, Yusuph Olaniyonu and Turaki Hassan, said that “the leadership of the two chambers had met and agreed to reconvene to consider the proposal this week before which a meeting between the Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Electoral Matters and officials of the INEC must have held on or before Monday August 13, 2018.”

The joint committees, it said, were also expected to meet with the joint Senate and House Committees on Appropriations, Loans and Debts on the Eurobond loan request after which two reports would have been ready for presentation in the two chambers.

“However, no such meeting had taken place yet as a result of which both Senate and House of Representatives cannot reconvene as there is no report to consider.

“Until the Committees have a ready report for the consideration of the two chambers, it will be most irresponsible to recall members from recess, especially those that may have travelled to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj,” the statement said.

It did not say, however, if the committees were already meeting.

The failure to reconvene the National Assembly, to the APC Assembly chiefs, could spark a constitutional crisis that will pose a potential threat to the current democratic dispensation as it will affect the preparation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for next year’s elections.

Speaking at a meeting with the members of the National Working Committee of the party in Abuja, Lasun, Lawan and Gbajabiamila said presiding officers must reconvene the Assembly immediately.

House Speaker Dogara did not attend the meeting.

The Deputy Speaker said it was unfortunate that the National Assembly could not reconvene on Tuesday as earlier agreed by the presiding officers.

He said: “I am not particularly happy that we are not able to reconvene the Assembly today because we decided few days back that we are going to sit and consider those items that are very important and may likely hamper the function of INEC and other programmes without which the implementation of the capital component of the 2018 budget would have been slightly difficult.”

Lasun asked the leadership of the party to make good on their promise not to abandon the legislators, saying: “We are party members and I must say that I like the assurance of the chairman that members are not going to be abandoned because it is always very hot outside there.

“I have always told people that if you want to become part of the endangered species, come to the National Assembly. That is why whatever efforts we make while conducting our businesses while in the hallowed chamber must be adequately compensated for by the party.”

Lawan said the APC Senate Caucus and the House caucus would ensure that the constitutional crisis hanging in the air is averted by ensuring that the Assembly reconvenes to pass the budget of INEC.

Lawan said “We have been talking and yearning for the National Assembly to reconvene, but it appears to be a dream. The deputy speaker had informed us a few days ago that we may reconvene either today or tomorrow. Well, tomorrow is yet to come.

“We are insisting that the National Assembly reconvene and reconvene quickly so that we pass the budget request of Mr President for INEC to start its preparation for 2019 in earnest. We also need to pass the request by the Federal Government for loans from foreign countries which will be the only basis for now for the funding of our capital budget.

“To do otherwise would amount to sabotage because we are in a very unusual time; we have the leadership of the National Assembly divided between the opposition PDP and the APC. We have to work hard to ensure that our government is not sabotaged.

“If we don’t pass the budget request, it serves the PDP very well, but it doesn’t serve us at all because it will negate what we stand for and all the promises we made to Nigerians. In fact, it could spark a constitutional crisis because if INEC is not able to conduct the election in 2019, that will be a serious constitutional crisis.

“So, we insist the National Assembly reconvene immediately. We are working on this in the Senate Caucus and we will continue to liase with the House caucus to ensure that we are on the same page on this so that we could get the National Assembly reconvened.”

Gbajabiamila said: “We have to find a find a way of reconvening the Assembly because as it is, we are heading for a constitutional crisis and an inevitable government shutdown because the two things that need to be done if the budget for the election and the funding of the capital project and without the approval, that will be difficult.

“I was with the Minister of Finance a couple of weeks ago and she told me in no uncertain terms that if she does not get the necessary approval from the National Assembly by end of August, we should forget funding for the capital budget. That is why I said it is a task that must be done.

“A lot of our members are supposed to be in Saudi Arabia right now.

“We had to go to the Hajj Commission to have their flight delayed because today was supposed to be the last day. They agreed to delay the last flight till Thursday, with the hope that we will reconvene today and tomorrow and do what is necessary.

“I know that these members will be rewarded for their unalloyed loyalty to the party. We have 196 members in the House and that is about 40 members more than the PDP. With that number, we can do the party agenda in the House. Even within the PDP, we also have some members who will join us.”

APC Chairman Adams Oshiomhole assured the legislators that the party will ensure that the high turnover of legislators is curtailed.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.


COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations



African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations



China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns



President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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